Isolation in Freelancing

This week I did a rare thing and left my desk to head out into the wide world.

The sun was shining, people were smiling and… there were people!!

I think I’d forgotten what they looked like.

St Paul the Hermit
St Paul the Hermit. I’ll bet even he managed to get out now and then.

It’s not just a myth that freelancing can turn you into a hermit. My day usually goes something like this:

Get up.  After the usual morning shrieking, take daughter to school and husband to work.

Come home, pop on the kettle and go through any emails that may have landed since end of work the day before. Check out social media (I love my social media I do). Pop the kettle on again.

Start work.

Lunch… oh crap. Now at this point I will, if I have actually remembered to have lunch, root around in the cupboards and see if there’s anything remotely healthy. Even if there is a lovely salad in the fridge I may end up with a crisp sandwich. Not always, but sometimes only ready salted on white will do.

Start work again.

School run time. Quickly put down work, nip out to pick up daughter then come back and…

Start work again.

Time to pick up hubby from work.

Now at this point it may be time to put down work for the day. If I have arrived at a nice natural end to a section I may well put down work, but some days I might carry on into the evening. But not too often… evenings and weekends are family time, or at least they are supposed to be, a lot of the time I’m down at our local theatre at rehearsals for whatever show we are putting on.

See, this is definitely hermit-like. Once upon a time, when I worked at the university, I worked among friends, I went out for lunch, I went to meetings and travelled between campuses. My day was full, but I rarely found myself talking to the wall. If I didn’t go to our theatre these days I probably wouldn’t see very many people at all.

It’s just too easy to stay within these four walls during the day. There is always work to be done – even if there is no actual work, there’s CPD, admin, housework and the like that will keep me indoors. Add this to the fact that when I’m outside any flying insects that bite will seek me out and feast, and we have a recipe for disaster.

After my daytime jaunt into the wild metropolis that is my local town I have realised that I really do need to get out more. So from now on I have given myself a few rules:

  1. Don’t find excuses not to go out… the housework can wait.
  2. Go out to a cafe at least once every two weeks, even if it’s only for half an hour. Yes, I can make the coffee at home, yes I will be tempted to eat copious amounts of cake, yes at the moment I probably can’t really afford it… but it will do me good.
  3. Set an alarm to remind me to move away from the computer, perhaps go into the garden (perhaps in full midgie combat gear) and get some fresh air. If it’s not raining take the computer into the garden and work outside for a while.

It’s difficult to get out of the hermit habit, but it has to be done*.

How do you cope when you realise you’re turning hermit like?

*This post has been written late, due to actually going outside and meeting people. It was a strange experience, but I liked it.

16 Comments on “Isolation in Freelancing

  1. It is indeed difficult to de-hermitize — especially if one tends toward introversion anyway. But when I freelanced I used to occasionally grab my laptop and hang out at the Institute of Arts. They had wi-fi and it was quiet, but I could get up every hour or two and chat with a docent. I also used to meet fellow freelancers for coffee on the first Wednesday of each month. Not only was it nice to build the network a bit, but it was also reassuring to hear that others were facing similar challenges. And now there’s a new movement of shared space for freelancers (at least in my city — I think it might be more suitable for a Web developer or graphic artist, but it’s still a cool idea. Anyway, thank you for a wonderful read!

    • Hanging out at the Institute of Arts sounds like my idea of heaven! I don’t think we have any freelancer meetings here at the moment, we are such a small town on the edge of the country, but it’s something to look into. There are so many meet-ups and shared spaces for freelancers now though, that for those with meetings nearby I expect its a lifeline to a hermit-free existence.
      Glad you enjoyed my ramblings 🙂

  2. Hi Sara. Love to read your blog. I’m just coming out of a winter in a tiny cottage in the countryside in Portugal, miles from my newish friends here, with just dogs for company – my own, and several strays who heard there was a soft English ‘mad dog woman’ in residence. Got lots of copy-editing done, but when I had family to stay for a couple of days, I found I struggled to make conversation and was exhausted by 9 every night! I think I’ve gone over the edge!! So, in an attempt to rehabilitate myself, I’m in the throes of moving back to ‘civilization’, in the countryside near a tiny village where I have lots of musician friends and other creative types. Now all I have to do is make myself GO OUT! It should be easier now the nights are lighter, shouldn’t it?

    • Oh heavens, it’s the making yourself go out that’s the hard part. But if you have lots of creative types around I expect it’ll be much easier. And once you get out there you wonder why you ever stayed inside… until the next time you have to make yourself go out. If they’re the type not to push, why don’t you let them know you are trying to integrate yourself back into society… I’m sure they’ll make sure you don’t stay hermit-like for long. Good luck with it all, it sounds an idyllic… let us know how you get on!

  3. “…if I have actually remembered to have lunch…” Yep! Been there, done that. Too busy to remember. 🙂

    I told my dog just the other day if it wasn’t for him wanting to go out, I think some days I’d never even get out of my chair! 😀

    • Same here…and it has been known for me to sit down at ten (I usually start work around then) and not move until I need a coffee or two. but then go straight back to my desk until I realise the working day has gone.

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  5. Thanks so much for sharing this, Ms.Sara!!! I love you. It makes me think about everything that involves freelancing. The risks, the dos and don’ts, and everything. I want so bad to start my own home-based business. But I’m afraid. So much competition and so much more. Sometimes, I even wonder can I do it. How can I actually be different when so many others are doing the same thing?

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